FPAUDI: Ryan Hooker Castle Combe race notes

Ryan Hooker headed to Castle Combe at the weekend for the final two rounds of the 2003 Visma Software Formula Palmer Audi Championship, eager to take third place in the Championship in only his first year of single seater racing. First...

Ryan Hooker headed to Castle Combe at the weekend for the final two rounds of the 2003 Visma Software Formula Palmer Audi Championship, eager to take third place in the Championship in only his first year of single seater racing.

First qualifying took place at the bumpy Wiltshire circuit on Saturday in sunny conditions which saw Ryan secure 6th on the grid for Round 11. Second qualifying was held on Sunday morning to determine the grid for Round 12, the final round of the series, in very different conditions. "Second qualifying was delayed as it was very misty" says Ryan, "and when we eventually got on track areas were still damp. I managed to get my best lap in on my last lap to get 5th on the grid just four-tenths of a second off the polesitter."

The conditions improved for Round 11, "I made a good start" Ryan notes, "but struggled with rear end grip so dropped to sixth place. I saw Lewis and Smith, who were in front of me in the Championship, both parked by the track after an incident on lap one. Castle Combe is a difficult circuit because their are no areas which really suit the overboost system we are allowed to use up to eight times a race so I knew I'd have to use it at just the right time to work my way up and I was pleased to get to fourth and be right on the tail of third place." Ryan's fourth place pulled him further clear of his rivals for third spot in the Championship and earned him the Avon Tyres Trophy for Best Junior Rookie, for the fifth time this year.

Buoyed by his performance, Ryan went into Round 12 knowing he had to score a minimum of two points to finalise third position in the Championship. "I made another good start" says Ryan, "and there was a tight band of us fighting it out behind Stephen Young in third. Three laps from the end I got past Young and was able to pull away from the group and gain on Kennard in second place until there was just eight-tenths of a second between us at the chequered flag."

"I'm over the moon to finish the season on the podium and not only to finish third in the Championship but to have pulled right up to Smith (who finished second) after my strong finishes today. As soon as I came off the podium celebrating Round 12 I was asked back up as the top three Championship finishers were invited up for a photocall and TV interviews. And it ended with us being drenched with buckets of water by the mechanics! It's been a great season and I'm already looking forward to next year but before then I hope to confirm a place in the FPA Autumn Trophy Series."

The Autumn Trophy takes place over four rounds held on two race weekends in October and Ryan is hoping to raise enough sponsorship to secure his seat in the series. Details on sponsorship packages are available on his website at www.ryanhooker-racing.co.uk

In the meantime Ryan won't have time to celebrate his successful first single seater season in the time honoured fashion as it's back to hard work as a race car instructor on Tuesday! And plans are afoot for Ryan Hooker Racing to host a number of kart events over the winter at Playscape, Streatham as well as preparation for a further season in FPA in 2004 when Ryan will surely be a hot favourite for the title.

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